Tag Archives: Kirstin’s side of the story

My Empty Nest



back cover pictureEvery challenge has its rewards, and every opportunity has its tradeoffs. One of the tradeoffs I had counted on was that Kirstin would always be with us. Michael was an independent young man at an early age, playing with his friends all day. When we moved to Prescott Valley he became an adventurer, exploring the creeks and hills around our town. In high school, now a licensed driver, he spent time with his buddies or worked at various part-time jobs.  He no longer accompanied us on family vacations.  After high school, Michael took a job with the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter. At first he remained in Chino Valley, but he was soon transferred to other ranger stations in remote areas of our large state. Eventually, he got married and became a parent himself. He had gradually become less and less a part of our daily lives, but Kirstin was always there. She was with us every day and everywhere we went. Other parents had to prepare for having their children move away, but not us. While we knew Kirstin would have a life of her own in some ways, I always assumed she would continue to live with us.

The empty nest idea didn’t fully hit me for a few months. It was May and it was Mother’s Day. On any other Mother’s Day, Kirstin would have been parked outside our bedroom door, waiting for us to wake up and open the door so she could rush in present and card in hand. But on this particular Mother’s Day, there was no shuffling noise coming from under our door. It hit me like a ton of bricks. We were empty nesters. That was when the tears came.

As parents, Craig and I are as proud of Kirstin and her accomplishments as we are of our son Michael. They have both made their own way in the world as strong, successful, independent adults. Kirstin knows her own mind and will stand up for what she thinks is best for her (even to her overbearing mother). Letting go is a very difficult thing to do, and I don’t think we have fully mastered it yet. Maybe we never will. But Kirstin is always patient with us and helps us learn to be better empty nesters.

Kirstin’s Side of the Story:  I like being independent. Growing up means having a lot of responsibilities. I budget my money carefully. I have lots of bills to pay. It is not always easy being an adult. I’m a good cook. I keep my house clean. I am a good shopper.

All children have their families, even when they grow up. My mom and I play Pounce together, cook together, and spend time together. We don’t see each other every day, but that makes it more special when we are together.

From: This Little Light of Mine, A woman with Down syndrome shines brightly in the world. This book is available on Amazon

It has been over eleven years since Kirstin moved out of our home and into the mobile she shared with her grandmother. During that time, Kirstin has enjoyed her independence and grown into a remarkable adult. When we were helping her make decisions about what to do with her mobile home, there was a part of me that wanted so much to have her live with us again. But that wasn’t my decision to make. Kirstin has her own plans and dreams. Like all of us, she is working to make them come true. My role is to support her in this as I have always done.

The not too easy reader

Scan_20141205 (2)

Friends have asked me how Kirstin learned to read. I tell them she learned in school like everyone else, but there really is more to the story. Some of the ladies at our church wanted to give the credit to Kirstin’s Sunday school teacher. All of a sudden it seemed that Kirstin was able to read the little Sunday school books. Kirstin’s teacher, Mrs. Mobley, was somewhat upset with this version of the story, and rightly so, as she had been working with Kirstin for two years. Of course, Mrs. Mobley deserves the credit. She had a wonderful reading program called Edmark and all the faith in the world that her students could learn to read.

Much of the credit goes to Kirstin herself. I like to tell people that Kirstin learned to read by shear force of will. As her skills improved, she read every word she saw. This meant that she read all the credits at the end of a movie or television program. If we ate in a restaurant, Kirstin had to read the entire menu. Once again we found ourselves being held hostage in restaurants. Kirstin read signs, billboards and posters.  She read and read until she could read almost anything.

Reading has been an important part of my life since I was a small child. Now that I had a daughter who loved reading, I wanted to share my favorites with her. I enjoyed Beezus and Ramona, and all the Judy Blume books. Doctor Doolittle was also one of my favorites. Kirstin wanted nothing to do with my suggestions. Instead, she discovered her favorites on her own. Her ultimate love was The Baby-Sitter’s Club. One after another, she read them as fast as they were being published. The characters in The Baby-Sitter’s Club became real people in our household. Kirstin told us about them in great detail. One day I noticed Kirstin doing something sneaky, so I thought I had better check it out. On one of the pages of The Baby-Sitter’s Club book there was an advertisement for babysitting services, complete with the phone numbers of the club members. Kirstin was on the phone trying to contact someone in the club.

In 1996, Ann Martin came to Prescott for a book signing. We took Kirstin and her friend Angela to the bookstore where it was being held. There was a very long line that encircled the building, and we waited for hours. Kirstin had difficulty find a new book to buy for Ms. Martin to sign, because she already had most of them. Finally, it was her turn. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed that Ms. Martin spent a little more time talking to Kirstin than she did with the others. It is one of Kirstin’s fondest memories.

Kirstin’s Side of the Story: I read every day. I like to read books that are exciting or funny. I like to read love stories because I’m in love with David. I do read history, romance, scary books, and mysteries. The characters in the stories make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. I learn from their mistakes too.

If I couldn’t read, my life would be boring. I would not have been able to read The Baby-Sitter’s Club or the Avonlea books. I have to do some reading at work and in church. If I couldn’t read, I wouldn’t be as independent, because someone would have to help me. I have been able to read Facebook and Livemail, so I know what my friends are doing. I sent my boss a music video on Facebook. I had to read to figure it out by myself. My mom said she doesn’t know how to do that, but I can because I can read.

If someone is having trouble learning to read, I would tell them not to give up. You can do it if you put your mind to it. Read as much as you can and you’ll get better at it. We all have problems. Yours is learning to read, but you can solve it. Find a good teacher who will help you and never give up on you.

From This Little Light of Mine, A woman with Down syndrome shines brightly in the world. This book is available on Amazon